With 30 winners on the board including one successful foray across to France, the exotically named Eva-Maria Zwingelstein has had a remarkable season as she currently leads the race to be champion apprentice in Germany.
Eighteen months ago, with only two winners to her name, she came to the end of a decade-long wait for just her third triumph.
This long hiatus is partly explained by the demands of bringing up her daughter, Lilly, and partly by a stalls incident at Verden, which left her with a serious knee injury.
Fast forward the present and with the help of her mother who looks after seven-year-old Lilly, Zwingelstein has taken all before her and leads the German apprentice championship with only a couple of months to go.
From a family steeped in racing tradition – her father was once a prominent owner in the Baden-Baden yard of Freddy Gang – part of her success lies in her relationship with her partner and trainer, Gerald Geisler. The Iffezheim-based handler, who is due to wed Zwingelstein this month, has provided his fiancée with the majority of her winners.
The 29-year-old has developed a close relationship with a handful horses in the yard, including the one-eyed Alta Monte, a seven-year-old gelding. The duo teamed up to score in Dortmund at the end of June in what was an emotional moment.
Zwingelstein said: “He has got only one eye and while he is a special horse to me he can be quite difficult at times.
“We have got a very special connection and perhaps it’s a little bit due to his handicap that we are so close.”
Geisler gave her the biggest ride of her career in the Group 1 Deutsches Derby at Hamburg in July. She partnered Rosenhill, a son of Tiger Hill, in the 1m4f contest and although only managing a mid-division finish it was an experience that she won’t forget in a hurry.
“To tell the truth, I was really nervous beforehand to think that I was only the third woman in history to ride in the race. I could not believe my eyes when I passed Ryan Moore with one of the big favourites, Landofhopeandglory, off the last bend!”
I could not believe my eyes when I passed Ryan Moore with one of the hot favourites
One month later, Zwingelstein went on to achieve her highest stakes place finish when passing the post in third aboard the Andreas Lowe-trained Lips Planet in the Listed Preis der Stadtsparkasse Dusseldorf.
She finished just under three lengths behind British-raider Subtle Knife and winning stablemate Dynamic Lips.
This is set to be Zwingelstein’s final campaign in the saddle. However before hanging up her riding boots at the end of the season to focus on her family, she has a few aspirations she wants to achieve.
“I would like to hit 50 winners by the end of this season, while at the moment I have 39 altogether. It would be great if I can hold on to win the German apprentice championship, it would mean a lot to me.
“I think it’s best though to stop riding at the peak of my career.”